You can have the best leisure centre in the world but if your community isn’t aware of all the fantastic facilities and programmes you have to offer, they’re not going to come through your doors.

But how do you get the word out there? And what are some of the promotional activities that are working for other leisure centres in Australia and New Zealand?

Offer taster sessions and bring a friend evenings

Free or half-price taster sessions can be an effective way to entice first timers to try a programme or class at your leisure centre. It might be a group spin class, yoga lesson, or even a mums ‘n’ bubs Pilates session.

If people are keen to give something a go, and they know that many of the others coming along are likely to be novices as well, they are much more likely to attend.

Offering a ‘bring a friend for free’ deal for one of your classes can be effective too. People love working out with people they know, so this can be a powerful way to grow attendance numbers for new group fitness classes or those where numbers are beginning to dwindle.

Make sure to record new class attendees in your leisure centre management system as well. Once you have their ok to keep in touch, you can reach out to them with new opportunities and special offers in future to keep them engaged.

Run an attention-grabbing event

Running public events can bring new people to your facility and reinvigorate people whose motivation has lapsed. You might run a public spin class challenge during the Great Cycle Challenge for cancer research held each October in Australia or offer discount entry to your aquatic centre during New Zealand Mental Health Week, held each September.

Tying your event in with awareness weeks like these allows you to promote them more widely through awareness week websites, social media hashtags and articles in your local newspapers.

A seasonal outdoor pool in Khandallah, Wellington ran a wildly popular dogs ‘n’ togs event during New Zealand Parks Week in 2018, prior to draining and closing the pool for the winter months. The event generated significant media coverage and was an opportunity for people to enjoy the pool with their furry friends – a novel idea that brought in many first-time visitors to see what Khandallah Pool had to offer.

When promoting your event, make sure to include your phone number and drive people to your website or directly to your leisure booking system, if you want people to register.

Approach community groups

Many leisure centres focus on attracting individuals but don’t engage as well as they could with groups in the community. It’s worth reaching out to community organisations that might like to arrange a day visit for members and sports clubs that might be interested in utilising your centre as a wet-weather training option. Likewise, local schools might consider arranging regular visits for to help students build confidence in the water.

Approaching groups like these, either in person, over the phone or with the help of a targeted brochure, has the potential to generate increase the impact you make within your community and bring much needed revenue to your centre. If you have a good leisure booking system in place to refer groups to when they are making a booking, all the better.

Make the most of social media

The Insta-generation loves a good photo, and there’s plenty of opportunity for stunning active-shots in most leisure centres.

Photos provide easy content for your social media accounts and they can be used to showcase the fun customers are having at your centre and the programmes you have to offer. Think photos of people enjoying your aquatic centre’s waterslides, participating in a group fitness class, playing basketball on one of your indoor courts or enjoying a children’s birthday party at your leisure centre.

Just make sure that you let people know and get their permission before sharing their photo, especially if they are the subject of the photo or you’re likely to use the photo in a paid advertisement. Recording this permission within your leisure centre management system is a good idea if it has the functionality.

Get existing members to champion you

One of the most powerful marketing resources leisure centres have going for them is their existing customers and members. Many leisure centres will have hundreds or even thousands of customers listed in their leisure centre management system. If you can turn just a portion of them into vocal champions for your facility, you will have a small army of advocates telling their friends and families to visit and join up.

Creating champions can be done in a few ways, but the most important element is to treat customers well and show them they are valued. Greet regulars by name and go above and beyond to make sure you offer them an outstanding experience.

You can proactively encourage them to be champions as well. Referral programs, where you offer existing members discounts or other incentives for every friend they refer to your facility can be highly effective.

Encouraging happy customers to leave reviews about your facility on Google or social media can also generate surprisingly positive results as well. Identifying happy customers to approach for reviews could even be done with the help of an NPS survey, if your leisure centre management software offers this feature or integrates with a service of that kind.

A few extra tips…

While all of the ideas in this article can help to raise awareness of your leisure centre, it’s worth remembering that establishing a strong brand and name for yourself takes time.

The keys to success are providing an outstanding customer experience, regularly communication with your community and telling the story of your facility in a compelling and consistent way.

Winning leisure centre management and communication is made much easier with an efficient leisure booking system and easy to use leisure centre management system operating in the background.

Take a look at our features page for more information about what Jonas Leisure’s Envibe leisure centre management software has to offer.